Keep small teams efficient with these pillars of productivity at the office

Keeping Small Teams Efficient: 11 Pillars of Employee Productivity

Posted September 24, 2015 by Caroline Whitney in Managing Your Team
How can you ensure that your small team stays efficient? Here are the 11 pillars of workplace productivity.

We've built a free guide on how to motivate employees through incentives, prizes, and bonuses. Download it here.

Some studies have shown that small teams are much more efficient than large teams.

Why? Well, it’s easier for smaller teams to communicate and get things done.  

But smaller teams can also have a more relaxed atmosphere, which might hurt employee productivity.  Alternatively, bandwidth can become an issue.

How do you create optimal team effectiveness?  Here are the 11 pillars of workplace productivity, meant for everyone from the CEO to the intern.

1. Build Trust

Of course, trust is important on any team, but it is a key component for a small team.  A small team may be working in an uncertain environment, like so many startups do.  So many questions, so many unknowns!  If employees have trust in their leader and their peers, they'll be better equipped to navigate through that uncertainty, and  more efficient.  

On a one-man team? Don't worry, check out ways to fly solo and stay motivated.

2. Promote Teamwork

Two (or more) heads are better than one! Teamwork means more ideas, more suggestions, and more people working together to reach a common goal - which is super efficient!  

Organize team activities to get people comfortable with working together, and allow employees to do so whenever appropriate.

3. Set Clear Goals

It's way too easy to set vague goals. Let your employees know specifically what needs to be done, and when.  Of course, some deadlines are flexible. But set clear expectations for projects and check back in often.  

The Justworks team uses OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, to stay on task and motivated. Read more about OKRs here

4. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Set a plan for yourself each and every day. Set priorities. And encourage teammates to do the same.

Employees will be able to prioritize, work the appropriate amount on one project, and then move on to the next. Your employees may think they know what they need to work on each day without scheduling things so specifically, but scheduling helps people stay on track.

5. Allow Breaks

Maybe you’d prefer if your employees worked nonstop, but breaks are necessary for a person’s productivity.  Encourage employees to get up and walk around, get some coffee, or even go to the gym.  It’ll pay off in the long run.

6. Don’t Encourage Multitasking

It’s counterproductive and distracting.  Encourage your employees to focus on one activity at a time.

7. Help Employees Use Time Wisely

We’ve written about the ways to maximize the time working at your desk each day: it's a key ingredient in the recipe for success.  Encouraging employees to stay efficient while working at their desks will do wonders for their productivity.

Share specific tips: like using two computer screens, making and updating lists, and checking emails less often.  Turn to chat tools like Slack. Instant messaging isn't just for LOLs anymore. Instead of picking up the phone or walking to a desk and interrupting a coworker in the middle of something, message them for quick and easy answers.

8. Keep Meetings Efficient

A great way to keep the day going and make the best use of your employees’ time is to really focus on having efficient meetings, and to get rid of the unnecessary ones.  

In meetings, ban electronics and take next steps before the meeting is over. Consider having mandatory “no meeting” days each week to really allow your employees to get work done without interruptions.

9. Delegate!

Encouraging your employees to feel free to delegate certain tasks gets those tasks off of their plates so they can work on other things.  It also opens up opportunities for the delegatees to work on projects in new areas, boosting their confidence expanding their skillset.  More work will be completed in less time!  

10. Work Hard and Show Grit

When the boss is working hard, employees are more inclined to work hard too.  The more you show you care, the more employees will care.  

Think about past jobs and bosses you have had - did they utilize their time wisely?  Did they have a passion for the job?  Did their demonstrated hard work or lack thereof have an affect on you? We bet it did.

11. Keep Them Happy

Understandably, happier employees work harder.  And of course, we all want to work around happy people. It’s contagious!

Work hard to keep employee morale high.  Plan happy hours and little events during which your employees can get to know each other and find things they have in common. Volunteer together! Relax together!

It will make seeing each other at work all the more enjoyable, and it will give employees things to look forward to.  Also, don't forget to show your employees some appreciation. Even little displays of appreciation, like a sincere “thank you,” can go a long way.  Here are 35 affordable ways to show your team you appreciate them.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.